The Max-Planck-Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law was founded in Berlin in 1924 as the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht and was re-established in Heidelberg in 1949 within the framework of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Sciences. Currently the directorship of the Institute is held jointly by Prof. Jochen Abr. Frowein and Prof. Rüdiger Wolfrum who have been directors since 1981 and 1993 respectively.
In accordance with the general orientation of the Institute, the members of the research staff are assigned the task of monitoring developments in specific fields of public international law and current trends in the public law systems of specific countries. In addition to participating in the activities of the Institute, every member of the research staff is given an opportunity for individual scholarly development. After several years at the Institute, many full-time members either seek a professorship at a university or a post in the ministry or an international organisation.
For their research work, the members of the Institute can rely upon the service of the library, which is one of the most important in the world in the fields of public international law and foreign constitutional and administrative law. At the end of 2000, the library contained more than 493.000 volumes and subscribed to almost 4.650 periodicals (law gazettes, case reports and journals). In the past year, the library completed its efforts to store all the titles available in an electronic databank as part of the Virtual Institute project. The library's holdings and other materials are open to interested researchers.
During 2000 the Institute has continued its efforts to make its resources accessible to researchers world wide via the Internet. The website today offers vital services in the field of comparative public law and public international law, including an electronic version of the World Court Digest, a comprehensive list of links to websites around the world that are of particular relevance to the study of comparative and public international law and a database to facilitate the search for the books, journals and articles on public international law and domestic public law available in the library. The project has attracted the interest of researchers in many countries, as is illustrated by the steady increase in monthly hits, and has won critical acclaim by several publications specialized in content evaluation of scientific material on the Internet.
The Institute analyzes the development of treaty law and general rules of public international law on the basis of an examination of the relevant practice. The latter is reflected in both the World Court Digest (formerly Fontes Iuris Gentium, Series A, Sectio I), a systematic documentary digest of decisions of the International Court of Justice, and in a digest which contains decisions of German courts relating to public international law. Since 1997, the Institute edits an annual publication which covers the development of those areas of international law which are particularly influenced by the activities of the United Nations, the Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law. Current problems of both comparative and international law are examined regularly in the Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht. In addition, a semi-annual bibliography of periodical literature and books in the field of public international law (PIL) has been published since 1975. The titles of books and articles systematically evaluated and classified for PIL are also cumulated in a databank available to the users of the Institute's library.
From the very beginning, the Institute has focused on an in-depth analysis of major developments in contemporary public international law as well as in advanced research projects in the field of comparative law. As public international law and the domestic systems of constitutional law are increasingly intertwined, comprehensive research in both fields is required in order to gain a full understanding of the structure and functioning of modern states within the framework of the international community. Since the return of many states in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to democracy at the beginning of the last decade, the world has witnessed a flourishing of constitutionalism around the globe. Today, the constitutional systems of most countries at least in theory are based on the respect for fundamental human rights, the rule of law and democracy. This development has raised the fundamental question to what extent a globalization of the constitutional model which had first been invented and implemented in North America and Western Europe has taken place at the beginning of the twenty-first century. One important aspect of this general question, the degree of constitutional protection for the freedom of religion in its individial and collective forms in the different parts of the world with their vastly differing religious and spiritual traditions, was the subject of an international syposium convened on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Institute which took place in April 2000 (sub II. B., X. A.).
At the international and regional level, the states have increasingly moved beyond mere cooperation in matters of security, human rights protection, trade and the environment and established multilateral mechanisms which in their normative dimensions as well as their institutional ramifications present certain constitutional characteristics. This process of constitutionalization has been particularly strong in the European context with the foundation and the dynamic institutional development of the European Communities as well as with the establishment of a highly effective system for human rights protection under the auspices of the European Council which now covers the whole of Europe. But elements of constitutionalization have also been increasingly evident in rule making processes at the international level, in the fields of human rights protection and international criminal law as well as in trade law and environmental law. Correspondingly, the research activities of the Institute in recent years have focused on the legal and political foundations, mechanisms and limits of transnational constitutionalization processes. In 2000, this focus was highlighted by a number of publications and academic events sponsored by the Institute and its staff in the fields of international dispute settlement (sub II. C., X. B.), United Nations law (sub II. D.) and international trade and environmental law (sub II. E., II. F. und X. C.). It was also evident in a number of projects dealing specifically with the consequences of European integration and globalization for the basic structure and the mutual relationship of international law and constitutional law (sub II. G., II. H. und VIII. A.).
During the same time, the Institute strengthened its cooperation with foreign universities and research institutes. Some of the major events included the organization of a joint symposium with the judges of the Isreal Supreme Court which focused on fundamental problems of human rights protection and democratic governance in the German and the Isreali constitutional systems, the participation of the Institute in the EU-China Higher Legal Education Programme and a workshop with members of the Ukrainian Constitutional Court discussing basic problems of constitutional adjudication. The Institute took also part in a workshop at the University of Hongkong which dealt with the prospects and options for democratization in Hongkong after the return of the province under Chinese rule.
Finally, the Institute has continued to perform important advisory functions to major international institutions and to the German government. The Institute is currently preparing a comprehensive study on the immigration law and practice of foreign states and the standards set by international law for national immigration policies which has been commissioned by the Parliamentary party of the governing Social Democrats. The study shall assist the government in its efforts to overhaul German immigration law in order to adapt it to the changing demographic structure of German society and the requirements of a globalized economy (sub IX. B.) . The Institute has also played a major role in preparing the report commissioned by the Presideny of the European Union on the development of the human rights situation and the party system in Austria which provided the basis for the review of the sanctions policy adopted by 14 member states in their bilateral relations with Austria after the Freedom Party had joined the Austrian government at the beginning of last year (sub IX. A.).